Project Title: Leaf Characteristics and Structural Diversity of Bat Tents in Costa Rica
Student: Francesca Socki ’17
Mentors: Dr. Ramon Carreno and Dr. David Johnson
The tent-making bats of Costa Rica are a prime example of the unique capabilities of species to adapt and survive in the neo-tropics. While on the travel learning course for Tropical Biology, we worked at two different locations, the first being in the higher elevated rainforest of Pocosol, the second being at low elevation near the pacific coast in Hacienda Baru. The main goal of my project was to study the leaf characteristics of the tents that these bats were creating, while as a side project also seeing if I could find a variety of types of tent construction or order to create a guide. At both locations I walked the trails looking for tents, and every time one was found I would perform measurements such as the width and length of the plant and identify the leaf species. I also performed mist-netting at night, where I was able to identify several tent-making bat species which later helped me to identify species found in a tent during the day. I was able to measure 20 tents in total. Results show that in both locations bats usually preferred one type of plant species for their tents throughout the forest (in Pocosol anthuri, in Baru calatea marnatacci), and in most locations they made their tents close to the forest floor and in close proximity to one another. Depending on the type of leaf used for the tent, a specific type of construction was made by the bats. We also made a side trip to an old growth forest that displayed over five different types of tents. Overall the results implicate that these bat species are most likely choosing tents based on the availability and quality and of the leaf species throughout the forest and the plants accessibility as a tent.